Choosing the Perfect Study Abroad Program – A Student’s Story

Spain is one of the most popular destinations for American students to study abroad.

Once committed to studying in Spain you can choose between five USAC locations; San Sebastian, Bilbao, Madrid, Valencia or Alicante.

How do you decide among these five locations?

One USAC student that studied in San Sebastian in Fall 2016 shares why she decided to study abroad in the Basque country.

Study Abroad in San Sebastian, Spain

Why Did You Study Abroad in San Sebastian, Spain?

I have been daydreaming about traveling the world as long as I can remember.

Anytime I needed an escape from what was in front of me, my mind would drift to visions of myself in foreign places, tasting foreign foods with new friends, standing on mountain tops with wind blowing through my hair as music plays through my head. Sounds a bit romanticized, but it’s the small things like that I dreamt of.

When someone would ask where I wanted to go in the world, I would reply as follows: Spain, Greece, Italy, France, etc.

The more times I spoke that exact answer the more my eyes would light up at the sound.

The idea of staying in Sacramento, California forever and not leaving America would have been so incredibility dissatisfying and became something I just wouldn’t accept in my life, so I started looking into study abroad programs in Hungary, London, and more.

Tori and other USAC Students

How Did You Find USAC?

I am currently a senior at California State University Sacramento, a school that offers a great study abroad program that for some reason I do not know, made me feel uneasy. I convinced myself to trust my gut and look elsewhere which led to me hearing about USAC.

My childhood best friend attends Cal Poly in San Louis Obispo and previously went to San Sebastian with USAC the Fall semester before me. I was feeling a bit lost and wanted her opinion on studying abroad in general. One coffee date full of pictures and amazing stories led me to email USAC that day asking how I can get into this program and go to Spain like she did.

Not only did I receive a response back the same day, but continued to receive assistance and loads of helpful information when needed.

The USAC staff made me feel so comfortable and helped me prepare in every way.

When it came time to choosing which city in Spain I wanted to live in, I basically looked at one picture of the Bay of Biscay and my mind was made up. One look at the beach in Donostia and I knew that’s where I was going.

I’ve never lived by a beach before and I was more than ready for a change like that!

Visiting caves in San Sebastian

As I was researching this city in Spain I kept seeing San Sebastian, but also “Donostia” which I had no idea was the Basque word for “San Sebastian” until I got here. I remember my mom looking up hotels for when her and my dad came to visit me and said, “Tori is it San Sebastian or Donostia?” I replied with a blank stare and a shrug as if those were two different places.

Needless to say, I had no idea about the Basque culture or language, or how much I was about to learn of the Basque culture and lifestyle… and all I really knew about Spain were the names of the biggest cities. But I wasn’t nervous to jump into that unknown, I’ve wanted to study abroad for so long that the actual reality of doing it wasn’t nerve-racking but rather relieving.

I was finally getting to live those daydreams of mine.

My first impression of San Sebastian was that it was completely different than I expected it to be.

It may be considered a “small city” in Spain, but it’s bigger than any town or city I’ve ever lived in.

I wasn’t expecting this city to be so big, filled with such amazing street and nightlife.

Now that I’m here, I realize I came into it with little knowledge of what I was coming into, but I’m glad.

Class in San Sebastian

I’ve lived a life filled with control and plans, I wanted to come here and let that control go.

My time here so far has been overall wonderful and I’ve already learned so much more than I thought I would.

Tori Trylovich studied abroad in San Sebastian, Spain in Fall 2016. She wrote this excerpt for a class project during her time in San Sebastian.